Photos: The fight for the right to vote

loading photos...
  1. Civil rights activists march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on March 7, 1965, on their way to Montgomery, the state capital. They are demanding voter registration rights for blacks, who are discouraged and many times threatened with violence if they try to vote, particularly in small towns in the South. (Flip Schulke / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Tear gas fills the air as state troopers, on orders from Gov. George Wallace, break up the march. March 7, 1965, becomes known as Bloody Sunday after state troopers assault the marchers with clubs and whips. A shocked nation watches the police brutality on television and demands that Washington intervene and protect voter registration rights for blacks. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Alabama state troopers beat marchers with nightsticks in Selma on March 7, 1965. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Wilson Baker, left, Selma's public safety director, and Mayor Joe Smitherman, right, tell reporters why they are banning a march to the courthouse, as protesters gather in a nearby church on March 10, 1965. Smitherman said tensions were too high to permit the eight-block march. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Voting rights activists clasp hands at a rally before starting the third and final march from Selma to Montgomery, on March 21, 1965. (Flip Schulke / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Marchers cross the Alabama River on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on March 21, 1965, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the start of a five-day, 50-mile march to the state Capitol in Montgomery. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. links arms with other civil rights leaders as they set off from Selma on March 21, 1965. King is fourth from right, and Dr. Ralph Bunche, undersecretary of the United Nations, is third from right. They are wearing leis given to them by a Hawaiian group. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A soldier stands guard in Selma on March 21, 1965, on orders from President Johnson to protect the marchers. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act on Aug. 6, 1965. Widely considered the most effective civil rights legislation ever in the United States, the law bans discriminatory tactics such as literacy tests aimed at preventing blacks from voting. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

updated 8/15/2009 7:56:11 PM ET 2009-08-15T23:56:11

Federal authorities will continue to investigate the 1964 Mississippi killings of three civil rights workers — a case that helped pass landmark legislation — despite the death of a key suspect, the Justice Department says.

Billy Wayne Posey, 73, died Thursday. Federal investigators were looking into his possible involvement in the June 21, 1964, killings of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, who had been working to register black voters.

Posey's funeral was Saturday in Philadelphia, Miss., the town at the heart of the case.

On Friday afternoon, Alejandro Miyar, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said the death does not "alter our cold-case investigation." He said federal authorities are assisting state investigators who could bring state charges, The Clarion-Ledger reported.

Goodman's brother, David Goodman, of New York City, said, "This is still the country of law and order, and the laws are clear. There is no statute of limitations on murder."

‘Mississippi Burning’
The slayings shocked the nation, helped spur passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and were dramatized in the 1988 movie "Mississippi Burning."

In the summer of 1964, hundreds of FBI agents investigated the trio's disappearance, leading to the discovery of their bodies buried 15 feet beneath an earthen dam.

In 1967, 18 men went on trial for conspiring to violate the civil rights of the three victims, and seven of them were convicted.

One of the seven, former Neshoba County Sheriff's Deputy Cecil Price, told authorities before his 2001 death that he told Posey in 1964 he had just jailed the three civil rights workers on a traffic charge and asked Posey to get in contact with Edgar Ray Killen, who helped to orchestrate the killings.

The only murder prosecution took place in 2005 when a jury convicted Killen, a reputed Ku Klux Klan leader, on three counts of manslaughter. He is serving 60 years in prison. Civil rights activists have been pushing for more murder charges.

Authorities have said at least four suspects remain alive.

In a 2000 statement, Posey told investigators there were "a lot of persons involved in the murders that did not go to jail" but he did not identify them.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments